Possibly the Worst Misuse of Neuroscience Ever

Illustration for article titled Possibly the Worst Misuse of Neuroscience Ever

Of all the terrible ways that insights from neuroscience have been twisted for use in unrelated areas, this might be the worst. According to one self-help author, you can "fix your financial impulses in 45 days" by pumping up the dopamine in your brain. Science!


In an article on Ready for Zero which is recycling insights from the terrifyingly-named book Meet Your Happy Chemicals, we learn:

Since dopamine is released when you reach success, you can trigger this happy chemical by reaching success in your finances. The key is to create small milestones that you can reach sooner rather than later instead of focusing on the larger goal which could take years to achieve. Don't just think about the next possible milestone. Break your large goal into milestones that you know you can reach every few months, thus regulating a continuous release of dopamine.

For example, if you've got a years-long debt payoff schedule ahead of you, break it down into smaller milestones such as reaching 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of your target debt account. Celebrate each milestone to help get you closer and closer to your ultimate goal.

There's nothing wrong with this advice — the problem is trying to polish it up with a veneer of neuroscience. And things only get worse when we're told how to line our financial goals up with oxytocin production. Essentially, money helps you meet your "happy chemicals." Thanks, pseudoscience.


You know what else pumps up those fun chemicals in your brain? Drugs. Lots of different drugs. In fact, all of them. For a good time, call your friends LSD, Mushrooms and Supercalafragalisticdankthunderfualabamakush.